New J.R.R. Tolkien Book – The Children of Hurin

The Children of Hurin, by J.R.R. Tolkien

The new J.R.R. Tolkien book, The Children of Hurin, was released yesterday.

From ABC news:

Six thousand years before the Fellowship of the Ring, long before anyone had even seen a Hobbit, the elves and men of Middle-earth quaked at the power of the dark lord Morgoth.

Hunted by easterlings and orcs, they fled to the fastness of Nargothrond and to the deep forests of Brethil and Doriath. Among them, a hero emerged. Strong and courageous he was, but foolhardy and impetuous. His name was Turin, son of Hurin.

The Lord of the Rings works rank up there as some of my favorite books and movies, so I am excited about this one. I am curious how many Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fans out there plan on getting this.

Here is the book description from Amazon and some comments from Adam Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien’s grandson:

The first complete book by J.R.R. Tolkien in three decades — since the publication of The Silmarillion in 1977 — The Children of Hurin reunites fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, dragons and Dwarves, Eagles and Orcs. Presented for the first time as a complete, standalone story, this stirring narrative will appeal to casual fans and expert readers alike, returning them to the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien.

The Children of Hurin, begun in 1918, was one of three ‘Great Tales’ J.R.R. Tolkien worked on throughout his life, though he never realized his ambition to see it published. Though familiar to many fans from extracts and references within other Tolkien books, it has long been assumed that the story would forever remain an unfinished tale. Now reconstructed by Christopher Tolkien, painstakingly editing together the complete work from his father’s many drafts, this book is the culmination of a tireless thirty-year endeavor by him to bring J.R.R.Tolkien’s vast body of unpublished work to a wide audience.

Adam Tolkien, the son of Christopher Tolkien, comments about his father’s work on compiling the material for the book:

Considering that the earliest passages in The Children of Húrin are 90 years old, Christopher’s reworking of the book works brilliantly. In a sense it is not a new book, for versions and pieces of the story will be familiar to some readers. For example, the whole tale was condensed down into a single chapter in The Silmarillion, as was the story of The Lord of the Rings at the end of that book, so what you have here is the reconstructed version, complete with familiar elements and also passages that have never appeared before. (It might be compared to a sort of literary Director’s Cut, the long version of the story assembled from all the best footage available, though my father probably wouldn’t welcome the filmmaking comparison!)…

We hope that readers will be sufficiently attracted to the tragic tale of The Children of Húrin, and will discover the “great tale” that was so important to J.R.R. Tolkien and then the whole fascinating mythology that lies behind The Lord of the Rings. It is a testament to my father’s skill as an editor that he has been able to construct a complete narrative without resorting to writing anything new. The words are one hundred percent J.R.R. Tolkien’s, and for anyone who has read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, this book allows them to take a step back into a larger world, an ancient land of heroes and vagabonds, honour and jeopardy, hope and tragedy.

You can read the full article by Adam Tolkien here.

2 Comments

  1. Timothy Michalak says:

    Any idea how much of the book was left when Tolkien died? Or was it finished and uneditted?

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    My understanding is that the whole work was finished but in bits and pieces and spread out over several manuscripts and histories. What Tolkien’s son has done is organize the material from all these sources into one coherent narrative without adding to or changing any of his father’s words. Quite an amazing task when you think about it.

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